Cities and villages across the country — perhaps even the world — do their best to promote not only their own municipality but also the citizens who live there. Many a town and/or city has tried myriad ideas to get its citizens to rally behind their hometowns for one reason or another.
But perhaps those other municipalities never asked the folks in Oglesby how to accomplish such a task.
“The goal was to make the downtown area look nice,” said Oglesby City Clerk Becky Clinard. “We wanted to be different than everybody else, so we decided to honor our local military veterans.”
While many places have monuments with veterans’ names proudly inscribed, Oglesby decided to show its pride by flying it from the rooftops ... or at least the light posts.
The city clerk’s office staff, which is known for also participating in Oglesby’s special events as well as their usual city clerk duties, came up with the idea to buy patriotic light post banners and give Oglesby residents the opportunity to have their local servicemen and women honored by having their names on those banners.
“it was a win-win for everyone because the community shared the cost, and it accomplished our goals to have our streetscape look great,” Clinard said. “We knew the downtown would look great with these banners.”
The city of Oglesby made a card telling townspeople of the project. It was inserted into everyone’s utility bill on the first of March of this year. The card explained the program, noting it would cost people/families $60 to “buy” the banner with their military person’s name on it. The city would share the cost and chip in the other $60 per banner. The deadline was March 31.
Clinard said she thought it would be great if the city received 30 orders for light post banners. When the total quickly rose to 100, the city was unable to find the $60 per banner in their budget to fund anymore banners, but rather than turn people away, they allowed anyone who still wanted to get a banner the ability to do so for the entire cost of $120. When the total rose to 160 banners purchased, the city of Oglesby was afraid they would run out of light posts and stopped taking orders. Clinard said the staff at her office are still receiving calls and having people drop by the office, hoping they can still be part of the program.
“This community is very patriotic,” Clinard said, reiterating the fact there were 160 purchased. “We stopped taking orders March 31; we were afraid we wouldn’t have enough light poles.”
All of the banners were up before Memorial Day. The banners will remain up through Oglesby’s annual Summer Fun Fest — July 7-10. The goal is to leave them up through Labor Day in September, and then they will be taken down by the city and given to the families who ordered them.
“We’ve had extremely positive feedback,” Clinard said. “We’ve seen people out having their photos taken underneath them, and we’ve seen family members posting pictures of their banners on Facebook. A lot of family members have returned to the area to see their banner.”
Clinard said it’s been a good “rallying point for the community.” For her personally, she said it was good to see everybody in the city come together for a common cause.
“It really brought the community together in the name of patriotism,” Clinard said. “Plus it’s a wonderful backdrop for our festival and our parade in July.”
So what about next year? The ladies in the city clerk’s office are already planning ahead.
“We are already thinking about doing something along the same lines, but a little different,” Clinard said with a smile.